Chapter 3: Disbelieving Realizations
Hermione had lost count of how many silent fits took place this evening but this one definitely won the first prize.
As she looked around herself she saw each person wearing a different expression; Harry was going from white to red with his trembling hands revealing his state, Professor McGonagall had, on the contrary, turned a shade of purple after hearing such a blunt lie escape Snape’s mouth and Hagrid wore a mask of deep disgust on his bearded face. Hermione knew that if Hagrid lost his temper, these moments were Snape’s last.
Without really thinking what she was doing Hermione blurted the first thing that came into her head.
“Before one of us kills you, Mr. Snape, do me a favour and tell me why you are so possessed to constantly save your own skin with such imbecilic lies?”
Snape’s much recognizable old smirk came back as his eyes coldly looked up at her.
“I see that the seventh year does not have a chance in the world of changing your ‘know-it-all’ persona, Miss Granger. Trust me, if you really had known everything there is to know you would not have been able to live the tale by now,” he hissed.
Professor McGonagall interrupted Hermione’s and Snape’s furious staring duel before everything got out of control.
“Enough! I think we have witnessed and heard enough to ensure we will all have nightmares tonight, so I suggest we part for the day. It is widely known that important matters are better discussed in the morning,” she said and turned to look at the three youngest people in the room.
“And you are to go immediately into your Common Room. As far as it concerns everyone else, nothing has happened after the Great Hall was emptied. I would expect you to keep your mouths tightly shut on this subject unless one of us would open it. Understood?”
Hermione and her two friends had no choice but nod their heads.
But just as they were about to exit the doors, Harry wheeled around and forcibly demanded;
“And may I ask where he will be until morning, Professor?”
“And this, Mr. Potter, is none of your business,” replied McGonagall sternly but seeing that Harry was far from accepting her answer added, “But I assure you that for the rest of the night Mr. Snape will be in no condition to cause a problem to anyone.”
At last the trio departed for Gryffindor Tower but Hermione could not stop herself and looked over her shoulder a second before the Great Hall’s doors closed behind them.
The image of the blood covered Snape, half lying on the floor in his unusually dirty black robes and wearing a deranged, hopeless expression as he faced all the professors of Hogwarts, would probably stand in front of Hermione’s eyes for a long time.
And for some unknown reason, Hermione’s heart painfully shrank at this image of a fallen dark wizard.
The next day the whole school’s only preoccupation was the talk about the sudden and unexpected appearance of the former Head of Slytherin. Hermione witnessed that the constant open gossiping did not lighten Harry’s mood in any way. Ron wasn’t overly happy either with that and when at break he overhead some first years blabbering in the corridor suggesting that perhaps Snape was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in his new disguise, Hermione truly thought that Ron would produce an ’Avada Kedavra’ curse on them. But he instead spend a full half an hour shouting at them during which he took a hundred points from Ravenclaw and gave both children detentions.
It was pointless to say that by the end of Ron’s tirade the two eleven year old boys were as white as first snow and close to fainting from fear. As a result, a muttering Ron was forced to carry both of their limp bodies to Madame Pomfrey.
“What do you think?”
Harry’s voice interrupted Hermione’s desperate concentration. Even though it was the first day of school, she already had plenty of homework to do and the last thing she needed now was to be tortured with yet another interrogation.
“Where do you think Snape is held? Or perhaps he is already in Azkaban?” repeated Harry impatiently, oblivious to the anger that was starting to rise in Hermione.
“I do not know and do not care, Harry. You may study calmly now for if McGonagall got her hands onto Snape, you can count that he has already paid for all of his life’s sins,” muttered Hermione darkly, desperately wanting Harry to leave her and this subject alone.
Right on cue, as if just waiting for a dramatic entrance, the Portrait of the Fat Lady opened and the usually stern looking Professor McGonagall entered the Gryffindor Common Room. Hermione did not fail to notice the way the older woman’s thin lips kept twitching due to some deep emotion.
All at once, Hermione’s hopes of finishing her essay evaporated to dust when McGonagall purposefully strode towards the table which Hermione and Harry presently occupied. Unlike Harry who jumped up the same moment Professor entered the room, Hermione was not that eager to hear what would become of her ex-potions teacher.
The realisation that she wished him to be punished as minimally as possible did not raise her spirits in the slightest.
“Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, I believe it would be best if you follow me. There is something that I guess will be of interest for you to hear from Prof-, I mean Mr. Snape,” she said openly for there was not one more soul in the whole Common Room to overhear her.
Harry’s face was already full of disdain and he opened his mouth to object when the Headmistress interrupted his upcoming words.
“I do not give a Warlock’s ass what you personally want, Mr. Potter! As long as I hold a position higher than your own I expect you to follow my requests, especially one as important as this. I do not believe I remember Sirius ever praising your hasty decisions that more than once got not only you into trouble but brought harm to the people close to you.”
Minerva McGonagall earnestly did not wish to remind Harry of the fateful day during which his decision brought him to the Ministry of Magic’s Quarters. It was there where his godfather Sirius was killed.
Her sadistically provocative technique, however, was fruitful for Harry snapped his mouth shut and looked at her in silence with raw pain filling his eyes. It was a difficult image to look at but, the circumstances forced her to use any methods possible to bring him and Hermione to Severus Snape.
“All right, Professor, lead the bloody way to the damn man,” reluctantly agreed Harry with a grimace.
\"Severus, I would like you to tell Miss Granger and Mr. Potter here, everything that you have told me this morning,” said Professor McGonagall, positioning herself behind her desk.
The four of them; Harry, Hermione, Professor McGonagall and Severus Snape were the only ones that occupied the former room of Albus Dumbledore. As a new Headmistress, these headquarters rightfully belonged to Professor McGonagall now, but Hermione still couldn’t accept the fact that she would no longer see the long white bearded old man walking around this grand room anymore.
Her eyes reflexively moved to the wall where all the former Head’s of Hogwarts portraits hung. She couldn’t prevent her eyes from filling with tears when she looked at the last portrait which showed Professor Dumbledore calmly looking at the people below him. Even his usual twinkle in the eyes was the same behind his half-moon glasses.
He always looked as if he knew a secret that no one else did.
“I pointedly refuse to do that.”
Hermione tore her eyes from Dumbledore’s portrait and looked at Snape instead.
Today he looked as he did all the years since Hermione came to study in Hogwarts. His face was no longer covered in blood and his hooked nose was no longer broken. Even his usual black cloak and clothes were neat and clean. If Hermione did not know better, she would have thought that nothing had happened last June and Professor Snape was still the same dark mysterious man in whom only Dumbledore trusted.
Even Dumbledore was fooled in the end, the man whose only weakness was to see only the best in everyone around him.
“I do not ask for your opinion, Mr. Snape. Regarding the circumstances it is only in your best interests to reveal the truth to as many people as possible,” said the Headmistress closely watching the tall man pacing from one end of the chamber to another with his black cloak swishing behind him.
The fact that Snape wasn’t somehow tied or even under close guard made Harry speechless when he followed her into her study, and it took a lot of force from McGonagall’s side to calm the angry boy down before he finally agreed to sit and listen to what he was brought here for.
“And what, tell me, do I own this bunch,” furiously said Snape pointing his white hand towards the sitting Hermione and Harry, “to tell the things I know to them that only concern you and the Minister himself?!”
“You owe them the truth, Severus, at least for the fact that Potter was the one who witnessed his Professor killing the Headmaster. As a result, he is the most assured person that it was you who murdered Albus Dumbledore,” calmly replied McGonagall.
Hermione did not understand Professor McGonagall’s logic but kept her mouth shut. Instead of replying, Snape changed his focus to Hermione and now was pointing only at her.
“And what does Granger have to do with it?! I do not give a damn that she is one of Potter’s fans and constantly wants to become even a fatter walking encyclopedia than she is already!” he cried in frustration.
Hermione’s jaw dropped open at such an open offence. With burning humiliation she shouted the first offending thing her mind registered;
“I am not fat!”
It seemed that Professor McGonagall had had enough and with a slap upon her polished desk exclaimed;
“Just do what you are told, Severus, and this meeting will end more quickly!”
And with a totally unexpected half-smile added;
“And you will soon find out what Miss Granger has to do with all of this.”
Snape did not seem to like her mysterious smile but decided to swallow his pride. The time was growing shorter with every wasted minute and with a swish of his cloak he turned so that all three of his audience could see him better.
But before he could open his mouth, Professor McGonagall, uneasily shifted in her seat and with an expression that Hermione could not interpret said;
“But without the unneeded details, please, Severus.”
Snape only shortly inclined his dark-haired head in agreement.
“As you are already aware, the day that Professor Dumbledore died a group of Death Eaters attacked the castle with the help of Draco Malfoy. The fight broke out and even though there were no major losses, some people were injured.”
“We are aware of that fact, thank you,” sarcastically commented the fuming Harry.
Snape made it seem as if he did not hear the interruption and continued;
“If I could, I would have prevented the death of the Headmaster, but unfortunately I was immobilized and taken as a captive by the Death Eaters. Mr. Malfoy not only made sure to kill the Headmaster but made it appear as if it was I who killed him.”
“Immobilized?” now interrupted Hermione. “There just wasn’t time for the Death Eaters to take you captive! They barely had time to do what they did!” Snape knowingly smirked as if enjoying the stupidity that Hermione showed in public.
“That is because they had taken me captive even before the teaching year had started, Miss Granger.”
Hermione and Harry just blankly stared at him. It appeared that the Slytherin had finally lost his mind.
“Everything had been organized with deadly precision; even the Death Eaters had not known the truth. While I had been imprisoned by a bunch of psychos, only the Dark Lord and Mr. Malfoy knew their entire plan all along. Of course, the plan was revealed to everyone involved only after it had been accomplished and Mr. Malfoy had mercilessly murdered Dumbledore, the only man that, in the Dark Lord’s opinion, had the ability to destroy him fully.”
“What are you hissing about, for Merlin’s sake?!” cried Harry. “I saw with my own eyes how you killed Dumbledore with your own wand! Draco didn’t have enough guts to do it himself!”
Snape evilly smiled at that comment and Hermione had a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach as a very bad suspicion rose inside her.
“Who said that I was talking about Draco Malfoy, Mr. Potter? In the end, Lucius Malfoy appeared to be more ready to kill Professor Dumbledore than his son was.”
“WHAT?!” roared Harry, jumping out of the chair. “That’s impossible! I saw you; it was you who did it! How could he have killed Dumbledore himself?!”
This time it was Hermione who answered for Snape.
“Polyjuice Potion,” she muttered with round eyes dominating her face.
“Bravo, Miss Granger! I believe anyone but I would have awarded you a point for that!” exclaimed Snape humourlessly.
“You’re not in power to even think about your former position, Snape!” laughed Harry sadistically with an emphasis on the offensive familiarity. “You are no longer a part of this school so keep your vile mouth shut!” It seemed that Harry decided to point blank ignore the truth that he had heard just minutes ago. To him, Snape would forever be the anti-hero and enemy of the day, no matter what he had or hadn’t done.
“And here, it is you who are mistaken, Mr. Potter,” said the up till now silent Professor McGonagall.
“What do you mean by that?” asked the lost Harry.
“I mean, Mr. Potter, that as of tomorrow morning Professor Snape is going to take up his former position as the Head of Slytherin and the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher,” said McGonagall without blinking.
“WHAT?!” now cried out Hermione and Harry in unison.
“What you heard. But there is something else that I believe will ensure everyone’s opinion that Professor Snape is innocent concerning the murder of Professor Dumbledore,” said Professor McGonagall meaningfully with a twinkle in her eyes that seemed to inherit every Headmaster of Hogwarts.
This comment seemed to be news for Snape as well for his half mocking and half sardonic smile disappeared to be replaced by a dark suspicion as he gazed at the elderly woman sitting behind the large desk.
“And what would this be, Professor?” he asked.
Instead of answering, Professor McGonagall turned back towards the portrait of the former Headmaster who all this time observed the company with a smile.
The old man in the frame winked at Professor McGonagall and, after a light cough that did not promise anything good, answered for her instead;
“Professor Severus Snape is to be married to Hermione Granger.”
Ha-ha!!! The plot thickens.....
Sweet Surrender by witch